11 Awesome Games You Might Have Missed This Month – May 2017

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Eerie survival horror, colorful puzzle games, and stylish first-person shooters.

Tons of awesome games come out every month, but in the shadow of high-profile AAA titles, even the best ones can slip under our radars. Whether you’re a fan of survival horror, colorful puzzlers, or nostalgic first-person shooters, there’s plenty to love in this month’s round-up.

For more, check out our list on the most-anticipated 2017 indie games and an op-ed on the glory of weird, free web games.

Little Nightmares (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Little Nightmares technically came out at the very end of April, but it was so good we wanted to make extra sure it made it onto your radar. This spooky puzzle platformer is set aboard a massive ship occupied by creatures so nightmarish, they feel like they walked right out of a mash-up between the fantastical worlds of Studio Ghibli and the twisted realms of European fairy tales. Gorgeous lighting and camera work bring its terrifying setting to life, creating a powerful mood that I haven’t felt since last year’s incredibly eerie Inside.

Release date: April 28, 2017

Available: Steam, GOGPlayStation StoreMicrosoft Store

GNOG (PS4)

GNOG might be one of the coolest looking puzzle games in a while. Its series of hyper-colorful monster-headed physics toys are a joy to look at and interact with, not to mention the whimsical sounds and reactive music that accompany it. Its scenes come alive in new ways with the help of PlayStation VR. This one is out on PlayStation 4 only for now — PC and iOS coming later this year.

Release date: May 2, 2017

Available: PlayStation Store

Tumbleseed (PC, Mac, PS4, Switch)

Tumbleseed is a deceptively cute platformer and self-described “rolly roguelike” about balancing unique marble-like seeds on a vine to make it to the top of a mountain. But it isn’t that easy — its adorable cliffside scenes quickly give way to busy obstacle courses full of dangerous pits and all sorts of creatures that really, really want you dead. It can get overwhelming pretty quickly, but if you’re up for a challenge and enjoy the “every run is different” approach, Tumbleseed is worth a shot. It plays particularly well on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the Joy-Con’s HD rumble feature, which adds a distinct texture to Tumbleseed’s rolly heroes and adds a helpful physical element to your constant balancing act.

Release date: May 2, 2017

Available: Official Website, Steam, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop

STRAFE (PC, Mac, PS4)

Strafe takes the fast-paced shooting and fluid movement of ’90s first-person shooters like Quake and adds in some permadeath for good measure. Its running and gunning feels super smooth and pairs well with its old-school low-res graphics. If nostalgia for early PC shooters is your thing, Strafe is worth a look, but even if you don’t care for the retro feel, there’s a good amount of action-packed sci-fi dungeon crawling to keep you busy for a while.

Release date: May 9, 2017

Available: Steam, PlayStation Store

Dead Cells – Early Access (PC)

Don’t let the Early Access status drive you away from Dead Cells. This Dark Souls and Castlevania-inspired 2D action-platformer has been seeing some very positive reception since it hit Steam, namely for its satisfying combat and rewarding exploration.

Release date: May 10, 2017

Available: Steam

Future Unfolding (PC, Mac, PS4)

Future Unfolding both looks and plays like nothing else on this list, and for that you might either love it or hate it. But if you’re interested in games that aren’t afraid to try something new and trust the player to make discoveries on their own, Future Unfolding is worth checking out. It’s a colorful and reflective top-down adventure game about exploring a sprawling landscape. Nothing is explained, but that’s part of its allure — finding and unlocking its world’s many secrets. It debuted in March for Windows and Mac, but came to PlayStation 4 this month.

Release date: March 15, 2017 (PC, Mac) / May 16, 2017 (PS4)

Available: itch.io, Steam, GOG.com, Humble Store, PlayStation Store, Mac App Store

Old Man’s Journey (PC, Mac, Android, iOS)

Old Man’s Journey is a peaceful 2D puzzle game that lets you explore and transform the environment around you to uncover new interactions and memories from its protagonist’s life. It’s light-hearted, nostalgic, and a little bittersweet, which is all conveyed perfectly in its pastel-colored storybook art and serene soundtrack. If you’re looking for something clever, but also a bit calmer than the usual fare, this one is for you.

Release date: May 18, 2017

Available: Official Website, Steam, App Store, Google Play Store

Thumper (PC, PS4, Switch)

Thumper is a brutal rhythm action game with a style and soundtrack like no other. Its intensity blew us away on PC and PlayStation VR last year, and now it’s on Nintendo Switch. But don’t let its portability fool you. Thumper is still stunning as a handheld experience, thanks to its haunting abstract world and a killer industrial soundtrack that combines eerie electronic riffs with otherworldly strings and theatrical war drums. The HD rumble of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers also adds a subtle, textured feedback to your every move, elevating the violence of its high-speed motion to a new level.

Release date: October 10, 2016 (PC, PS4, PSVR) / May 18, 2017 (Nintendo Switch)

Available: Official Website, Steam, PlayStation Store, Oculus Rift Store, Nintendo eShop

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump (iOS, Android)

Pokemon: Magikarp Jump is a free-to-play mobile spin-off game that puts a cute twist on the virtual pet genre. As the name suggests, it’s all about catching, training, and caring for a Magikarp. It’s a more contained, focused experience than The Pokémon Company’s massively popular spin-off Pokémon Go, but it still captures the essence of the series: spending time to make your Pokémon the best it can be… even if it’s one of the series’ most laughed at. (But if you know what you’re doing, you can evolve your Magikarp into Gyarados.)

Release date: May 23, 2017

Available: App Store, Google Play Store

Superhot VR (PC, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)

Superhot started as a unique game jam prototype before evolving into a full-fledged commercial game. Its clever time-only-moves-when-you-do mechanic turns its sharp first-person shooting into elaborate, time-bending puzzles that feel awesome to pull off. Superhot’s VR version (which debuted for Oculus Rift last year and is now available on the HTC Vive) lets you experience its stylish action a whole new way.

Release date: December 5, 2016 (Oculus Rift) / May 25, 2017 (HTC Vive)

Available: SteamOculus Rift Store

Tokyo 42 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Tokyo 42’s stylish, minimalist renderings of future Tokyo are awesome to look at. Add in a seedy underworld of assassins, gameplay inspired by the original Grand Theft Auto, and a dash of tactical open-world stealth, and you get something pretty special.

Release date: May 31, 2017

Available: Steam, Microsoft Store

Chloi Rad is an Associate Editor for IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.

Nintendo Switch Paid Online Service Delayed to 2018

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Some changes are coming to Nintendo’s new online service.

Nintendo has delayed the launch of its paid online service for Switch to 2018, and the company provided the first new details regarding the new service since it was first unveiled back in January.

In a post on the company’s website, Nintendo outlined the details. The service will cost $3.99 USD for a one-month membership, $7.99 USD for a 3-month membership, or 12-months for $19.99 USD. The service includes access to a compilation of Classic Game Selections with added online play, including games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario, but the company did not specify if it would be limited to NES games.

Nintendo Switch Paid Online Service Delayed to 2018

The new pricing structure for Nintendo’s online service for Switch.

The service still uses a smartphone chat app for voice communications that will allow users to set appointments for gaming sessions. The free version of the app is still on track for Summer 2017. Nintendo also said subscribers would have access to special eShop deals including discounts on select digital games and content.

Nintendo clarified that the current online service will remain free until 2018. After the free-trial period, the company said most games will require a paid online service subscription in order to play online.

Jose Otero is an editor at IGN and host of Nintendo Voice Chat. You can follow him on Twitter.

What’s the Latest on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night?

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Checking in with Koji Igarashi to see how development is progressing in the wake of a delay, new publisher and new technology.

One of my favourite events each year is BitSummit – an annual indie games festival in Kyoto. It’s a great show, where up and coming devs mingle with industry icons, and where there’s no shortage of great games to play.

Last year, Koji Igarashi – one of the godfathers of the Igavania/Metroidvania genre – was actually manning a booth, showing off the latest build of his Kickstarter success story Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. This year, the game wasn’t there to play, but Igarashi himself was still in attendance. I caught up with him to get a broad sense for how development is progressing. After all, since BitSummit last year, Bloodstained has been delayed into 2018, the game has found a publisher and new technology has been implemented, along with new studios getting involved.

IGN: How is the 505 Games partnership going? How has it changed things for you?

Koji Igarashi: It’s a very developer-friendly company, so it’s easy to work with them, and right now we’re in talks about how to prepare for E3 – what we want to present there. It’s going well.

IGN: You’re hoping to make a big splash at E3 this year?

Koji Igarashi: As you may know, North America is the biggest fan-base for the Kickstarter, so it’s very important for us to have a good presentation at E3, because that’s where we feel that our core audience is.

IGN: Broadly speaking, how is development progressing? How far has Bloodstained come since BitSummit last year?

Koji Igarashi: We decided to make some changes to the way the visuals worked. You’re probably already aware, but we’ve implemented procedural generation to our backgrounds. It’s an investment now, but going forward we won’t have to create the stages by hand, we can sort of make fine adjustments later on quite easily.

What's the Latest on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night?

Click to see the detail.

IGN: Yes, I was quite surprised to hear that the procedural generation was to make the world feel more lived in. It’s quite a cool implementation of that kind of technology.

Koji Igarashi: The idea was that it’s boring to have the same asset repeated over and over in a level, so by adding these flaws to them or having procedurally generated levels of deterioration on these items, they’re the same asset but they all look different, so it makes the world feel more believable, or more real.

IGN: How closely are you working with Inti Creates now? And can you tell me about the new studio you brought on-board to assist with development? [As mentioned late last year.]

Koji Igarashi: We’re working with Inti Creates the same way we have been all along. They provide a support channel for us. Dico is the [new] company we’re working with, along with Monobit, who is helping Dico. They’re adding new technology, new development approaches to the game, like the procedural generation and stuff like that. That’s what we’ve called them in to do. They’re pretty separate [though], they have separate roles – Inti and Dico.

IGN: There’s a lot of moving parts now. How different has the reality of independent development been from your expectation?

If you think about working at a larger company, then you kind of have the resources in-house to do what you want to do, but if you’re a smaller company then you have to collaborate…

Koji Igarashi: Just talking about this change in particular, we realised that we couldn’t finish everything that we wanted to do in time if we didn’t change our technology, so even though it’s complicated, it’s just something that had to happen in order for us to produce the content that we want to for the game. If you think about working at a larger company, then you kind of have the resources in-house to do what you want to do, but if you’re a smaller company then you have to collaborate – you don’t have all the strengths yourself, so you have to work with other companies that complement your strengths. So that’s probably a difference in feeling to the way work was before – the resources are a collaboration between companies.

IGN: Do you think 2D gameplay is the ultimate way to present an Igavania-style game, or would you ever consider trying to do another 3D game in this style in the future?

Koji Igarashi: I don’t really have a strong opinion for 2D or 3D for an Igavania game – either would probably be fine, but I don’t have much experience with 3D games, so first of all, that’s not my strong suit, so I’m just working with what I know, and two, the Kickstarter fans and backers probably wanted a 2D Igavania game, so that’s what we’re making now because that’s what the fans wanted. If, in the future, it’s possible to make a 3D game then that’s something I’d be interested in exploring.

Cam Shea is senior editor in IGN’s Sydney office and tries to spend as much time as possible in Japan. He’s also starting to enjoy Twitter.

$10 Million Is The Price For Teams To Join Revamped League Of Legends Tournament

League of Legends is one of the biggest games for pro play in the world, and some major changes for the North American League Championship Series were announced today.

In essence, the LCS is changing its structure to become something that will more closely resemble the massive traditional sports leagues like the NBA or NFL. Under the new LCS structure, there will be 10 teams that are always in the mix, instead of squads that rotate.

An outline of the new structure is available on the Riot Games website, but one detail not on that page is the buy-in price for teams. Riot told Yahoo Esports (via Kotaku) that the figure is $10 million. Additionally, players on the 10 selected teams get a guaranteed salary of at least $75,000.

The LCS started in 2013, and these changes will go into effect for the next competitive season, starting in 2018.

Riot said its end goal is to “create a strong and stable system that’s profitable for pro players and provides entertainment for fans in the long term.” There are three major pillars of the changes, including revenue-sharing, protecting and supporting pro players (with a players’ association and more), and changes to the structure to encourage long-term investments.

Revenue-sharing could be huge for the selected teams, as Riot signed a $50 million deal with Major League Baseball last year. Under the new structure, pro teams can receive a 32.5 percent share of league revenues, divided between the teams. Half of the funds will go directly to the teams, while the other half will be divided based on how the teams finish and what they are able to achieve in terms of viewership and fan engagement.

Once the 10 teams are determined (after paying the fee and getting approved), they are in the league for good. So with no risk of getting removed from the league, will that lead to a drop-off in competitive play? Hopefully not, Riot says, explaining that it will offer incentives to teams that play well and penalise the squads that purposefully stay at the bottom of the ladder.

Applications for the new LCS opened today, with applications closing on July 14. Riot will provide an update on the specifics of the players’ association in August, and the final roster of teams will be announced in November.

For lots more on this news, watch the video above and check out this site.

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    Star Trek: Bridge Crew Review

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    A light sim that takes us boldly into the final frontier, but leaves a lot left to explore.

    Stepping onto the bridge of the USS Aegis in Star Trek: Bridge Crew is a dream come true for a lot of Trek fans. It lets you experience the fantasy of manning a Federation starship with three of your friends (or solo, awkwardly), and like most multiplayer VR games it’s hilarious to mess around with as you learn how things work. But by the time I gained beyond a cadet’s level of understanding of its systems, it became clear that there’s virtually no depth to this simulation.

    The attention to detail on the two bridge sets is great, from the captain’s chair to the consoles and the viewscreen. Some liberties are taken with the Aegis’ control panels to make them more video game-friendly than what we see in the modern Trek movies, but the Original Series Enterprise bridge is impressively accurate. I wish I could get up and wander around the bridge – or the entire ship, really – and take it all in, but you’re unfortunately glued to your seat in one of the four positions.

    Using the virtual touch-screen controls in front of you feels awesome – while you can play with a gamepad if you don’t have Oculus Touch, Vive, or PlayStation Move controllers, you’d be missing out on a big part of the experience of reaching out and touching Star Trek. Considering there’s no panel there in real life it feels a little more like Minority Report’s holographic controls than Star Trek, but that’s cool too. The one thing I found frustrating was the captain’s chair buttons, which are clustered together so closely that it’s easy to accidentally call a Red Alert when you’re trying to answer a hail.

    Bridge Crew isn’t really about serious simulation in the first place.

    Character models and effects (like the fires that start around the bridge when you take damage) are a lot less attractive than the ship itself and don’t do much to help immersion. But Bridge Crew isn’t really about serious simulation in the first place – it feels more like an elaborate theme park ride. Sure, you can do some hardcore roleplaying if you like, but in my experience playing with both friends and random matches the mood on the bridge quickly becomes that of a comedy. Especially during the first couple of times playing through the handful of available half-hour missions, Bridge Crew is a little bit magical – it’s like living out a classic Star Trek blooper reel where Scotty forgets to turn on the warp drive, Chekov can’t figure out how the shields work, and Spock’s head turns around almost 180 degrees.

    Because many of the basic work of operating a starship is made up of multi-part tasks, elements of which are divided between stations, there has to be a fair amount of interplay between crewmembers. The engineer has to charge warp coils before the helmsman can engage, the tactical officer has to scan an anomaly so the helmsman knows whether to avoid it, and whoever’s operating the transporter can call out how much longer they need the shields to remain down. That creates good roleplaying moments even among people who aren’t into that sort of thing. (Nerdy side note: for all of the technical accuracy in this game it’s bewildering that it refers to short warp jumps between locations in the same solar system as “impulse.” That’s not how that works!)

    However, communication is frequently interfered with by some unreliable Uplay voice chat, which has a really bad habit of cutting out seemingly at random, causing a lot of “What was that? You cut out after ‘Set course for…’” and “I can’t hear anybody right now. Just gesture at me if you need more power.” Talking with the same group over Discord was flawless, though Bridge Crew won’t let you completely mute the in-game chat. That makes it basically impossible to use an alternate VOIP service. The silver lining is that Uplay allows you to play with any Bridge Crew owner, be they on Oculus, Vive, or PSVR.

    Combat is disappointingly simple, and that’s most of what you do.

    About 80% of what you’re doing in Bridge Crew’s missions is combat with Klingon ships, or trying to steer around enemies in low-power mode to avoid detection. And while it’s not always easy to win, it’s disappointingly simple, especially relative to older Star Trek combat simulations like Bridge Commander or Starfleet Command. There’s no need to rotate through phaser arcs as they charge because there’s only one. You don’t have to keep your strongest shields toward the enemy or try to hit their weakest ones because there’s only one shield strength number for your whole ship (and there’s no way for the engineer to recharge them in combat, either). There are few enemy ship types to deal with and no significant difference in how to handle them: scan them, disrupt their systems (which can disable shields, weapons, or engines for a few moments), and fire away. The most complexity I’ve seen is when you disable a larger Warbird’s weapons while going after a smaller Bird of Prey to quickly reduce the number of enemies firing at you. And in multi-ship battles, there’s no way to coordinate with other Starfleet ships, so you can’t even prioritize targets effectively.

    Another issue is that most of the job of combat falls on the helm and tactical positions: helm steers and keeps enemies in your 180-degree phaser arc while tactical scans and fires phasers and torpedoes. The captain, meanwhile, has very little to do except shout out ideas for what they should do and hope the crew feels like following orders. Even when you answer a hail and talk to an ally or enemy captain on screen, there’s never a dialogue choice or decision to be made. The engineer has the job of allocating power to different systems, at least, but that station doesn’t even have a sensor screen to see what’s going on (presumably so that you have to listen for your crewmates calling out for more power). You also have to repair systems, but that involves little more than a lot of watching progress bars fill up, with no opportunity to feel like a miracle worker.

    If there’s so little for each player to do, it seems like a missed opportunity to not have minigames of some kind to pass the time while those progress bars fill up, such as subsystem targeting, transporter lock-on, or system repair – all of which have been represented on screen in various Star Trek movies and episodes.

    You can play everything completely in single-player.

    You can, of course, play everything completely in single-player, or with less than four, by jumping between seats and giving broad commands to an AI crew. It’s totally playable, and I was able to beat most of the campaign solo, but I’ve found that going in with any less than two makes the power and systems juggling required in combat and especially stealth a hassle. I was detected a number of times because my helmsman wasn’t smart enough to avoid an enemy ship on his own. It’s also a shame the AI crew won’t respond to voice commands (you have to use a contextual menu to give them orders) though Ubisoft says there will soon be an experimental trial using IBM’s Watson technology to allow them to respond to conversational orders.

    After the campaign are the Continuing Voyages, which are randomized versions of the same defend, rescue, and research missions. The randomization doesn’t add much to it, though – even though you’re warping to different locations on the star map you’re still only ever going to find one of a few different types of encounters when you arrive there. And while some of them have pitched battles with three or four Starfleet ships going at it with even more Klingons or pirates, others have next to nothing between you and the anticlimactic ending. These are getting old quickly, and playing as the TOS Enterprise bridge doesn’t help – I love the nostalgia and loyal depiction, but using the old physical switches to navigate and target enemies is just a worse way to play.

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    There have also been some bugs, which I will describe in terms Star Trek fans can understand. One, which I call the The Next Phase bug, froze our controls while a Federation ship fought Klingons on its own. Both ships were unaware of us until one player dropped, snapping us back into reality. In another, our captain’s sensor screen showed Klingon warships directly ahead, but the helmsman and tactical officer showed clean scopes. He was declared to be hallucinating and removed from command (which you can’t actually do, so we all quit out to the menu and restarted). Let’s call this one the Shore Leave bug.

    Star Trek: Bridge Crew  Review
    Star Trek: Bridge Crew
    Star Trek: Bridge Crew is a virtual reality simulation game that puts players aboard the starship Aegis in an adventure across the Star Trek universe.

    This link directs to a retail affiliate. IGN may receive a commission from your purchase.

    The Verdict

    Star Trek: Bridge Crew feels like a promising first draft of a fantastic Trek simulator, but it only goes boldly for a few hours. After the novelty of finally sitting on a beautiful Federation starship bridge wears off and you’ve exhausted the handful of mission types, all that’s left is the goofy physical comedy of messing around with your friends or strangers in VR. That’s nothing to scoff at, but with such a basic combat system and so much time spent twiddling virtual thumbs in two of the four chairs, Bridge Crew’s needs a refit before it’ll be ready for anything close to a five-year mission.